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Graham raises $28 million in third quarter, far behind Harrison

Graham raises $28 million in third quarter, far behind Harrison
© Greg Nash

Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Spokesperson says Tennessee Democrat made 'poor analogy' in saying South Carolina voters have extra chromosome MORE’s (R-S.C.) reelection campaign raised $28 million in the third quarter of the year as he faces the toughest race of his career. 

Graham’s haul is a substantial amount for a senator, but comes nowhere close to the quarter for his Democratic opponent, Jaime Harrison, who raised a record-shattering $57 million in the same time period, more than double the Republican’s total.

While the South Carolina lawmaker will likely be behind the eight ball financially in light of Harrison’s fundraising prowess, Graham's campaign maintains it will have the necessary resources in the homestretch to Election Day as it faces a barrage of ads.

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“Senator Graham is incredibly grateful for the tremendous support he has received,” said T.W. Arrighi, the Graham campaign’s communications director. “Our campaign will have the resources we need to get our message out to voters, which is especially important now that unions and radical groups that support ‘Defunding the Police’ are running millions of dollars in false ads attacking Senator Graham.”

“National Democrats will invest more than $100 million of out-of-state money to buy the race, but the voters of South Carolina know a liberal Democrat when they see one,” Arrighi added. 

The campaign declined to clarify the average contribution Graham received or how many people donated.

Graham’s bid for a fourth term appears increasingly precarious.

He has largely coasted to election in his past three races and appeared to be a shoo-in for a fourth term, given South Carolina’s strong support for President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE in 2016 and the fact that the state hasn’t elected a Democrat to the Senate in more than two decades. But Harrison has virtually tied Graham in a number of polls in recent months, and the Democrat's fundraising will put him in a position to blanket the airwaves and internet with ads.

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Harrison has now raised about $86 million across the 2020 election cycle, roughly the same Graham has raised since he first entered the Senate in 2002, according to an analysis of Graham’s past fundraising by The Hill.

The fundraising disparity has forced Graham to plead for Republicans to give to his campaign, saying on Fox News in September, “I'm being killed financially. This money is because they hate my guts.”

Graham, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is in the midst of the confirmation process for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, also grumbled about Harrison’s fundraising at Tuesday’s hearing.

“I don’t know what’s going on out there, but I can tell you there’s a lot of money being raised in this campaign. I’d like to know where the hell some of it is coming from,” he said. 

Republicans have begun coming to Graham’s defense, with Senate Leadership Fund, a top GOP super PAC, bankrolling a $10 million ad barrage in South Carolina this month.

The GOP is working to protect its 53-47 Senate majority as several Republican incumbents face well-funded Democratic challengers across the country and it is already sending money to play defense in battlegrounds including Arizona, Colorado, Maine and North Carolina. 

The Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election handicapper, earlier this month changed its rating of the Senate race from “lean” Republican to “toss-up.”